Sobotka & Root Score Stunning 1st Wins In LOLR Mid-Season Championships

Written on 06/20/2023

Sobotka & Root Score Stunning 1st Wins In LOLR Mid-Season Championships
Sprinter Hutton authors last lap pass while Grant & Minutolo pad fairgrounds full-fender totals

Nick Root & grandfather Steve Pesarek victory lane photo attachment by Mark Ranalletta

Canandaigua, NY – June 17, 2023 – Tom Skibinski, Land of Legends Raceway PR

Father's Day Weekend produced a memorable Mid-Season Championship Night at Land Of Legends Raceway presented by Seneca Meadows with Zach Sobotka and Nick Root scoring their first career wins while Jordan Hutton, Jimmy Grant and Marc Minutolo returned to victory lane as double points were awarded in all divisions as the 70th Anniversary season carried on in Canandaigua.

While Sobotka led the entire distance to win in just his fourth-ever Pepsi Big-Block Modified start, Hutton made a daring last turn, last lap pass to capture the third MighTea Boba 305 Sprint Car A-Main victory in his four events entered at the Ontario Co. Fairgrounds this season. Talented teen Root took advantage of a restart with 10 to go en route to taking home the Stirling Lubricants Sportsman trophy with Grant making another convincing run in the Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock feature and Minutolo triumphing in the Lloyd's Contracting Hobby Stock finale.

District Manager Kyle Black from Seneca Meadows, the largest landfill in the Northeast, was on hand for the second time in '23 to provide an added bonus to the 'Hard Charger' in each division with Matt Sheppard (Mod) and Matt Janczuk (Spt), along with race winners Hutton, Grant and Minutolo, each receiving a complementary pair of pit passes for an upcoming show at LOLR. And with the girls squad earning its second consecutive state title, the Newark High School bowling teams shared in the 50/50 raffle benefit on Saturday night.
With over six inches of rain saturating the speedway during the week, LOLR Promoter Paul Cole was ready to pull the plug Friday afternoon and cancel the program. Sobotka is certainly glad the dedicated grounds crew stayed on course as Cole's perseverance paid big dividends for the Parish NY pilot.

“Can't really believe it, really didn't expect this (win),” said the soft-spoken Sobotka, who turns 23 next Saturday, after emerging as the 107th driver to take a checkered flag in Big-Block competition at the hallowed half-miler since 1953. The reigning Sportsman points king at Canandaigua already owns seven wins in that division where he sits second in the current standings.

“Didn't really want to pay attention to the leaderboard too much because I knew I'd probably get nervous. Looked up, like lap 22, seen that the (race) is almost over and saw (Matt) Sheppard was third but couldn't really tell how far they were behind me but figured they were coming. I was just trying to hold the bottom (line), didn't really think there was anything on top,” summed up Sobotka.

Placing 18th, 15th and 15th in his initial three 30-lap feature starts, the handicapped line-up put Sobotka on the front row alongside pole-sitter Dave Allen. The lead pair pulled away early before a turn one tangle incurred a rare red flag to bring an abrupt  halt the second time around.

As the Modified mounts of Kyle Coffey, Peter Britten, Erick Rudolph, Troy Sperring and Ricky Newton sat stacked up in the first corner, Alex Payne ducked pitside while Daniel Johnson Jr. escaped to rejoin the field. Surprisingly, only Sperring was unable to continue although the other six drivers appeared saddled for the remainder.

Back under green, Sobotka had owner Tom Coar's blue GorDen-powered #32R American Equipment-C&S Sweeping/Bicknell machine showing the way as slick track conditions prevailed for the duration. At the halfway mark James Sweeting held down the runner-up spot but it was 15th starting Sheppard flying high into the third position eyeing his second win of the season at LOLR.

Justin Haers joined the fray, running fourth with 10 to go and briefly slipping past Sheppard for third on lap 22. 'Super Matt' quickly rebounded and with five laps left Sweeting, Sheppard and Haers ran bumper-to-bumper as leader Sobotka successfully navigated through traffic.

That order remained intact until the final lap when new points leader Haers stole third from Sheppard while Dalton Martin hung on for the first top-five finish of his rookie season.

“Have to thank my dad and grandfather for figuring out how to make this thing go better after the heat,” added Sobotka, who made his debut in May steering the same car designated as a back-up for Ronnie Davis III and was last run in 2020 with only 104 laps logged to kick off the current campaign in Canandaigua. “Right now I think we're gonna finish out the year in our Sportsman, got a couple more things I wanna win then we'll definitely focus on (Big-Block) next year.”

Big-Block racing is also in the near future for 15 year-old Root yet establishing consistency and winning a feature were the only goals entering his second season of Sportsman racing. The third-generation driver from Geneva tabled four Top-10 finishes in the opening five events and now it will be June 17 that is forever chronicled in the Canandaigua record book as the date of his maiden voyage to victory lane at his Saturday night summer hangout.

“Feels good getting one after a year and a half,” remarked Root, after jumping from seventh to fourth in the updated track points chase. Ironically, his father Kevin Root copped his first Big-Block victory on June 11 last season after the 2019 LOLR Sportsman champion recorded eight wins in that division from 2015-20. “Have to thank my mom and especially my dad and everybody that helps out on the car. Nice to be out here for once, don't really know what else to say.”

Root let his driving do the talking after battling J.T. Sperring in the early stages before moving in to shadow veteran Steve Gray with 10 of the 25-lap feature go complete. Just as Root was making a bid to pass Gray, the yellow flag flew as Justin Liechti came to a stop in turn two. Root wasted little time given a second chance, forging the lone lead change on the lap 15 restart before staving off a late charge from Matt Guererri to secure the popular victory.

Guererri's runner-up tally opened up a commanding points leader over 6th-place finisher Sobotka while top invader Matt Janczuk, Gray and Frank Guererri Jr. settled into front-five positions.

“It was a good race and everybody held their line,” added Root, who was mobbed in victory lane by a host of friends and family that included his grandfather Steve Pesarek. The familiar car numbered 30 sports an orange paint scheme on the back end of the winning F.X. Caprara Honda-JP's Custom & Cycle-SJP-Kosakowski Plumbing & Heating/Bicknell entry that pays homage to Pesarek, a 62-time stock car winner at LOLR who was crowned the first-ever Mr. DIRT Street Stock champ in 1995.

“We got lucky and got around after that restart and I kinda knew Gibbz was behind me. I knew I had one of the best cars behind me and just had to hold my line and not mess up,” Root figured.

Hutton's line to victory in the 20-lap 305 A-Main went from high to low in a matter of seconds, with a second try to dive under race-long leader Johnny Kolosek providing instant gratification for the #66 Tom's Auto-Big Awesome BBQ-JB Farms & Logging Eagle driver while instilling sudden heartbreak for the 2nd-place Todd's Towing team.

“Tried to save the tires the best I could through all of it, was praying for a late caution and finally got it,” noted Hutton, who ran down Kolosek with just one turn to go after started 13th on the 24-car grid. Last week Kolosek also led before suffering a broken rocker arm stud to once again relinquish lead and victory to 14th starting Hutton. “The first time going into turn three I went down low with a lapped car in the middle the car stuck and it was fast so I knew when that caution came out I had that little bit of an advantage over him.”

Kolosek maintained a comfortable margin over Randy Years and James Layton at the drop of chief starter Scott Hixson's opening green flag. After early season points leader Bobby Parrow slowed off the pace to incur caution on lap seven, Hutton bolted from sixth to third on the ensuing restart and set his sights on Years. And when John Smith slid over the bank rounding turns one and two, Hutton took second back under green with 10 laps in the books.

Hutton closed the gap with two laps to go yet a last lap effort rounding turn four seemingly fell a car-length short at the stripe. Just moments before however, a yellow flag had unfurled due to first-time racer Jacob Newell first getting out of shape in turn two followed by Years spinning on the back chute before facing the wrong way in the path of oncoming traffic. A second try was all Hutton needed as the Hannibal hero perfected the race-winning slide job exiting turn four to shock Kolosek for the $500 win and vault him to within four of new points leader James Layton.

Runner-up 'Captain America' Kolosek settled for another frustrating finish ahead of Dillon Paddock, Eastern New York invader Thomas Radivoy and Layton.

“After that white flag and then coming to the checkers I was just gonna sail it in there, wasn't going to wreck anyone or bend up anything,” stated Hutton, who pocketed an extra $250 for claiming the Speed Connection back-to-back win bonus. “I trust my equipment and trust my crew, and trust it to stick together. Just did what I had to do.”

Black was back in the full-fender ranks with Grant's #36 Fratto Curbing-Washburn Excavating Chevrolet Camaro sable Street machine dusting the field and Minutolo holding strong aboard his dark #25B Honeoye Auto Parts-Real Estate By Jenn-Tradition Automotive-NG Promotions Chevrolet Monte Carlo Hobby stocker.

Grant charged from ninth to third halfway through the 20-lap affair, passing Marc Minutolo for second on lap 13 then grabbing the lead from C.J. Guererri on a lap 14 restart on his way to a convincing 15 car-length victory.

“The car got better and better and things worked out,” reported perennial Penn Yan powerhouse Grant, whose fourth win in six starts ballooned his current points over Guererri and still winless Mike Welch.

Outside pole-sitter Chris Beyea out-dueled front row partner Pat Hobbs on the opening circuit before Guererri took over the top spot on lap four. Grant closed in on the front-five with a handful of laps complete as Minutolo stalked Guererri followed by Aksel Jensen, Beyea and Welch. Grant picked off the front-runners one by one as the laps clicked off, ducking under Guererri for the final exchange up front after Hobbs slowed between turns three and four to slow the action on lap 14.

Guererri held on for second ahead of Welch at the stripe while Minutolo finished fourth after swapping spots with Carl Johnson twice over the last four laps.

“I knew I got into C.J. a little bit coming down there into turn two but I had such a good run I didn't mean to get into him,” admitted Grant, who garnered the 2021 LOLR season championship with six wins in 14 starts. “I showed him my nose and neither of us lifted so that's racing. I'm sure he'd do the same to me.”

Minutolo survived the 27-minute Hobby marathon, grabbing the lead for good on lap eight from pole-sitter Tyler Burnell and out-distancing upstart Daniel Kerrick by six car-lengths to triumph in the 15-lap finale.

“On the bottom I was 100% better than Tyler but it was a fun race, fun to run door-to-door with him,” commented Minutolo, who last week shared six lead changes with father Frank 'Bubba' Burnell before settling for second. He now ranks second to only Welch with 66 feature wins at the fairgrounds with one Street Stock trophy earned in '23. “We were good in the heat on the bottom so we stayed there.”

“Was a little choppy down here on the bottom but if I hit it just right I could feel the car hooking. Its one of those things, either try to go above it and sacrifice giving up the bottom or suck it up and go through it. Tonight the car held up good and that's a credit to the work put in at the shop. Have to thank everybody for their support along with my father. He's the reason I'm here, all my success is a direct reflection of him,” added Minutolo, who leads the elder Burnell in points 396-380 heading into summer.

Finishing behind Kerrick at the line were the son-father duo of Tyler and Frank Burnell while 2021 division high-point man Justin Eldredge rebounded from a lap two spin to round out the Top-5.

Following the second lap mishap involving Eldredge, a red flag flew when Jimmy's teenage daughter Ellie Grant rammed Dan Korpanty who sat motionless after spinning between turns three and four and also collecting Craig Dingy. No injuries were reported though the stoppage was lengthy to clear the obstructed track.

Land Of Legends Raceway sizzles the first weekend of summer when the top traveling Sportsman teams invade Ontario County for a Northeast Central/West Region Series event June 24 on Ferris Mowers Night. The mighty Pepsi Big-Block Modifieds join the card featuring a full program of  305 Sprint Car, Street Stock and Hobby Stock action along with the second LOLR induction ceremony honoring former Canandaigua contender and current car owner Vic Coffey. Colony Caregivers is the weekly 50/50 beneficiary. Pit gates open at 3:30pm, spectators are admitted at 5 o'clock with practice and Sportsman timed hot laps starting at 5:30 followed by heat race qualifiers at 6:30.

The season's second addition to the Land Of Legends Wall of Fame will be made this coming Saturday as Vic Coffey joins fellow Big-Blocker Charlie Rudolph in Canandaigua's Class of '23 on June 24. Previous selections are 2018 LOLR WoF charter members Donald 'Dutch' Hoag, 'Barefoot' Bob McCreadie, DIRT Motorsports founder Glenn Donnelly and still active ace Alan Johnson, Class of '19 inductees Steve Pesarek, Milt Johnson, Gary Montgomery and Gary & Donna Spaid, '21 honorees Steve Paine, Paul Guererri, Mike Welch and Fred Taney, along with last year's recipients Danny Johnson, Gary Tomkins, Tom & Kim Ewing and Brad Ovens, with each individual recognized in a timely tribute held behind the main grandstands following pre-race practice.

In two more weeks the Super DIRTcar Series makes its return to the Land of Legends when Big-Block Modifieds take center stage in the 70th Anniversary “Stars & Stripes 60” paying the winner $7,500 on Mon. July 3. The mighty Mod Squad will be joined in the holiday happening by the CRSA 305 Sprinters in round #2 of the LOLR DisBatch Brewing Company mini-series for Averdi CRSA title chasers. Honeoye Auto Parts and iFreeze Storage & Distribution Center back the big DIRTcar doubleheader with a $1,000-to-win, 20-lap A-Main closing out the companion CRSA series shootout.

Pit gates unlock Monday at 3:30 p.m., grandstand seating opens at 5 o'clock and practice sessions start at 6:00. Group time trials go off the line at 6:30 then opening ceremonies at 7:00 followed by qualifying races for both divisions. *Due to the holiday doubleheader there will be no racing at the fairgrounds on Sat. July 1.

Led by award-winning executive producer Art Rorick, and Chris Marquart in his absence, the LOLR TV broadcast team embodied by production assistant Makenna Hansen, graphics coordinator C.J. Miller, chief camera operators Mike Yawney, Jim & Michelle Mullen, and veteran voices Steve Ovens (PA announcer) and Doug Elkins (pit reporter) are once again on-site to provide LIVE video coverage of every event through Land of Legends TV, with LIVE streaming continuing to be offered FREE in 2023. On-line registration at for a free account is the only step to take.

Also available for download is the LOLR mobile app found at Google Play or
App Store to secure your raceday pass today.
In addition to LOLR's weekly racing being simulcast on Land of Legends Raceway TV, each show will also be broadcast live on DIRTVision and highlighted by the mighty DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds. To watch, sign up for an annual Platinum FAST PASS with DIRTVision and experience every event either online or through the DIRTVision App.

General Admission Ticket and Pit Pass bundles continue to be offered to LOLR fans and race teams while providing a great opportunity to save money in the process. G.A. packs of 20 ($200) or 50 ($450) and Pit bundles of 20 ($700) or 50 ($1700) must be pre-ordered to be used during the upcoming season.

Regular weekly ticket prices remain set at $15 Adults, $13 Seniors, Kids 16 yrs. and under FREE. Pit passes are $40. For those youngsters needing pit access, Child Season Pit Passes are $50 for 2 yrs. & under and $150 for kids 3-13. Camping is FREE at all race events.

To purchase ticket and pit pass bundles or discuss marketing opportunities available at the track in 2023, please contact LOLR Director of Marketing & Operations Tana Robinson via e-mail or cell 716-799-5669.

Check out often as the latest news and season schedule information will be posted right up to raceday.

Land of Legends Raceway is located on County Road 10 at the Ontario County Fairgrounds, just 1-1/2-miles north of Routes 5&20, and is easily accessible from the NYS Thruway (I-90), taking Exit 43 (Manchester, Route 21 South) traveling from the east or Exit 44 (Farmington, Route 332 South) coming from the west.

Land of Legends Raceway Event Summary – June 17, 2023
70th Anniversary Season Celebration Saturday Spectacular

Seneca Meadows presents Mid-Season Championships [Double Points]
Pepsi Big-Block Modified
*Feature (30 laps): 1. 32r-Zach Sobotka ($2,000), 2. 11j-James Sweeting, 3. 3-Justin Haers, 4. 9s-Matt Sheppard, 5. 132-Dalton Martin, 6. 14j-Alan Johnson, 7. 70p-Eldon Payne Jr., 8. 25-Erick Rudolph, 9. 21-Derrick Podsiadlo, 10. 70a-Alex Payne, 11. 42p-Pat Ward, 12. 27j-Danny Johnson, 13. 34-Kevin Root, 14. 39-Kyle Coffey, 15. 7z-Zach Payne, 16. 21a-Peter Britten, 17. 27jr-Daniel Johnson Jr., 18. 11n-Ricky Newton, 19. 29ny-Greg Birosh, 20. 88-Dave Allen, 21. 7-Troy Sperring.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Sweeting, E.Payne, Z.Payne, Coffey, Sobotka, Sperring, Root.
#2: Martin, Rudolph, Haers, A.Johnson, Allen, D.Johnson, Newton.
#3: A.Payne, Sheppard, Podsiadlo, Ward, Britten, D.Johnson Jr, Birosh.

Stirling Lubricants Sportsman Modified
*Feature (25 laps): 1. 30-Nick Root ($750), 2. 12g-Matt Guererri, 3. 33x-Matt Janczuk, 4. 29g-Steve Gray, 5. 113jr.-Frank Guererri Jr., 6. 38-Zach Sobotka, 7. 7-Paul Guererri, 8. 51-Tim Lafler, 9. 10-Karl Comfort, 10. 7j-JT Sperring, 11. 31-Kane Bristol, 12. 26-Greenley George, 13. fox28-Tyler Stevenson, 14. 9-Tim Baker, 15. 25n-Evan Nugent, 16. 18h-Justin Henderson, 17. 23b-Timmy Borden Jr., 18. 2k-Anthony Kimble, 19. 32c-Kasey Coffey, 20. 35-Nick Cooper, 21. 21j-Justin Liechti, 22. 34-Behr Grover.
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Gray, F.Guererri, Root, Coffey, Nugent, Baker, Kimble, Stevenson.
#2: Grover, M.Guererri, Sobotka, P.Guererri, Cooper, Henderson, Borden.
#3: Lafler, Janczuk, Sperring, Bristol, Liechti, Comfort, George.

MighTea Boba 305 Sprint
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 66-Jordan Hutton ($500), 2. 10-Johnny Kolosek, 3. 8-Dillon Paddock, 4. 1Q-Thomas Radivoy, 5. 14-James Layton, 6. 18-Timmy Lotz, 7. 17e-Ethan Gray, 8. 21b-Blake Warner, 9. 9k-Kyle Pierce, 10. 77-Matt Rotz, 11. 10p-Nathan Pierce, 12. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 13. 99-Adam DePuy, 14. X-Dan Bennett, 15. 18c-Dan Craun, 16. 4-Cliff Pierce, 17. 410-Jerry Sehn Jr., 18. 2-Randy Years, 19. 23-John Smith, 20. d9-Dustin Sehn, 21. 30-Kirsten Dombroski, 22. 09-Jacob Newell, 23. 80-Bobby Parrow, 121-Steve Glover(DNS).
Heats (8 laps)
#1: Smith, Kolosek, Radivoy, Gray, N.Pierce, C.Pierce, Craun, Glover.
#2: Paddock, Rotz, K.Pierce, J.Sehn, Warner, Ruggles, DePuy, D.Sehn(DNS).
#3: Parrow, Layton, Hutton, Years, Lotz, Bennett, Dombroski, Newell.

Eldredge & Sons Scrap Recycling Street Stock
*Feature (20 laps): 1. 36-Jimmy Grant ($500), 2. cj1-CJ Guererri, 3. 00-Mike Welch, 4. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 5. 87-Carl Johnson, 6. 9-Aksel Jensen, 7. 57j-Nick Dandino, 8. 122-Chris Beyea, 9. 5c-Rick Crego, 10. 22-Carl Cleveland, 11. 12-John Burritt, 12. 63-Mike Fellows, 13. 3-Patrick Hobbs, 74-Darren Phippen(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: Welch, Johnson, Beyea, Minutolo, Crego, Burritt, Fellows.
#2: Guererri, Grant, Dandino, Jensen, Hobbs, Cleveland, Phippen.

Lloyd's Contracting Hobby Stock
*Feature (15 laps): 1. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 2. 61-Daniel Kerrick, 3. 57jr.-Tyler Burnell, 4. 57b-Frank 'Bubba' Burnell Jr., 5. 25j-Justin Eldredge, 6. 90-Nathan Peckham, 7. 13b-Brian Lloyd, 8. 36x-Brighton Grant, 9. 88-Justin Jacoby, 10. 57x-Brad Steinruck Jr., 11. 11k-Dan Korpanty, 12. 22-Craig Dingy, 13. 36-Ellie Grant, 22j-Randy Johnson(DNS).
Heats (6 laps)
#1: T.Burnell, Peckham, Eldredge, Kerrick, Steinruck, Jacoby, E.Grant.
#2: Minutolo, F.Burnell, B.Grant, Lloyd, Korpanty, Dingy, Johnson.

NEXT EVENT: Saturday Spectacular, June 24 @ 6:30pm; Ferris Mowers presents DIRTcar Northeast Sportsman Series Central/West Region(30L) plus Big-Block Modified/305 Sprint/Street Stock/Hobby Stock with Colony Caregivers Benefit and Legends Inductee Night #2: Vic Coffey.